Max Highstein | Flying Not Falling

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New Age: Contemporary Instrumental New Age: Neo-Classical Moods: Type: Instrumental
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Flying Not Falling

by Max Highstein

Musical magic formed of piano, cello, woodwinds, fretless bass and percussion; artfully woven with New Age, World, Jazz and Classical inspiration.
Genre: New Age: Contemporary Instrumental
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
1. Flying Not Falling
3:46 $0.99
2. Dreamwalk
5:04 $0.99
3. Frank and Mandy
4:13 $0.99
4. Earthtones
6:32 $0.99
5. Lily Pads
4:59 $0.99
6. Lake Shrine
8:29 $0.99
7. Helium
4:32 $0.99
8. Simon and Michael
6:09 $0.99
9. Let's Talk
5:05 $0.99
10. New Girlfriend
4:04 $0.99
11. Olive Branch
4:08 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
Kudos for Flying Not Falling:

“Flying Not Falling is musical magic! The arrangements are fresh and original, the production is superb, and the performances brim with wonderful surprises. This music lends us wings!” — Rob Whitesides Woo, Composer & Serenity Recording Artist.

"Just stunning. Such thoughtful compositions, beautiful production, and the instrumentation is gorgeous. I am especially pulled in by the piano and the flute, but of course it is how the whole ensemble comes together that makes the piece so special.” – White Sun (Gurujas Khalsa). Best New Age Album Grammy Winner, 2017.

“This is absolutely lovely, I agree with Gurujas!” – Wouter Kellerman Best New Age Album Grammy Winner, 2015

“Thank you for this beautiful music, very light and fresh, I like it a lot! Joyful and upbeat... well done!” Sincerely yours, Guido van der Meulen

“We received your CD today. Thanks for sending it. I just listened to it, and -- Wow! It is simply outstanding! It will most definitely gets lots of airplay on GAIA Prime Radio. In fact, we will likely add numerous tracks from the album to our playlist next week. It is exactly the kind if music we had in mind when we started GAIA. It fits our station programming perfectly!” Robert Martin, Owner/Producer, GAIA Prime Radio

"This is absolutely delightful music! It is inventive. It is fun. It is interesting. It is beautifully played and produced. Max Highstein is a wonderful composer and musician and here he has brought all his talent forth.” Marguerite Ogle

More listening comments (names withheld for privacy):

"I really enjoyed listening to Flying Not Falling this morning. Your music is fresh and uplifting. I love the combination of instruments and sounds."

"I have finally gotten a chance to sit down and really listen to "Flying Not Falling". First of all, the packaging is lovely. The mix is awesome. Your compositions are all unique. You and your musicians are wonderful. I really love how uplifting all the music is, not cloying like so many New Age submissions. My favorites are "Earthtones"...should be part of a soundtack! Lake Shrine...which makes me want to go out into the woods and listen to it again. Also it should, I suppose. I'm listening to "Let's Talk" right now, which I think would lend itself nicely to lyrics. Anyway, this is on the top of my New Age list."

"I absolutely Adore "Flying Not Falling"!!!! The title cut is of course my favorite but I love them all!!!"

"I like your light touch and instrumentation. Dreamwalk is particularly compelling and always going somewhere new and inviting. I like the interesting use of synth on Frank and Mandy. That was a pleasant unexpected timbre. Other standouts for me are Lake Shrine and New Girlfriend . I love your subtle use of syncopation on Lake Shrine and I love the authentic melody and vibe of New Girlfriend. Earthtones is my favorite. I love the countermelodies and subtle rhythmic arrangement. I love how overall your music dances and the instruments interplay."

“Flying Not Falling is still in the CD deck in my car, as it’s one of the really good ones. I know the album very well. You’ve produced a beautiful work… the production with such clarity that brings the featured musicians’ instruments is so near, you might as well be there. This album is truly lovely. Your choice in ebb & flow is satisfying, and before you realize, it’s over, & it’s playing again! A lot of talent going on there. I took the opportunity to listen to some of your previous work. You certainly get ‘New Age’ and see the development of the genre. It’s a pleasure to listen too.”

Flying Not Falling includes stellar performances by the following musicians:

Max Highstein – piano, fretless bass, synthesizers.

John Yoakum – soprano sax, flute. Credits include Paul McCartney, Lady Gaga, Stevie Wonder, Barbra Streisand, The Simpsons, LA Philharmonic Orchestra.

Ed Willett – cello. Willett has performed with the Honolulu Symphony and Los Angeles Mozart Orchestra, and toured worldwide with pop/rock icon Rickie Lee Jones.

Willa Roberts – vocalization. Featured with her trio Black Sea Hotel on the Grammy Award winning Yo-Yo Ma/
The Silk Road Ensemble’s latest album, Sing Me Home.

Mark Clark – drums and percussion. Credits include James Taylor, Dan Fogelberg, John Popper, and Ottmar Liebert.

John Gustafson – oboe. The Santa Fe Opera Orchestra, Anthony Braxton, James Newton and Bob Moses.

Jesse Tatum – flute. Principal Flute of The Santa Fe Symphony and the Opera Southwest Orchestra.

Charly Drobeck - flute. Performed with Santa Fe Pro Musica, and Santa Fe Womens’ Ensemble.

Max Highstein’s music is known for rich melodies, well defined themes, and intricate arrangements. Classical, Jazz and World Music elements gracefully weave their way through his recordings. A high level of emotional depth and personality engages the listener through repeated listenings.



to write a review

GAIA Prime Radio

A Work of Art!
Like a carefully crafted tapestry that weaves many different types and colors of threads to form a creative, beautiful, and perhaps even spiritually uplifting design, on Flying, Not Falling, Max Highstein intricately weaves together melodies, themes, and instrumental voices into a delightful, sophisticated, complex and exceptional work of art. Overall, the music can described as original, melodic, contemporary, positive, cheerful, uplifting, joyous, lively, bold, innovative, well developed, and a whole lot of pure fun.

The title track is unabashedly uplifting, cheerful, happy, spirited, energetic, bright, poppy, distinctive, melodic, and wonderfully whimsical. It also features a wide variety of instrumentation such as piano, piccolo, clarinet, flute, acoustic and electric guitar, strings, synthesizer, oboe, and various types of percussion. And with its joyous and spunky attitude, it is an excellent opening track that truly sets just the right mood for the fun that is to come. One is reminded of walking briskly down a street, happy-go-lucky, whistling, perhaps even skipping now and then, without a care in the world.

This is nicely followed up by "Dreamwalk," which is certainly our most favorite track on the album. In contrast with the first track, "Dreamwalk" is slower and more contemplative, with pronounced classical music qualities, both in expression and development. It is magnificently melodic, complex, stylish, well crafted, and quite memorable, with a truly outstanding blending of instrumentation such as flute, oboe, cello, violin, synthesizer, piano, ethereal voices, and percussion. On this track, Max's abilities as a composer really shine through. Simply outstanding!

"Frank & Mandy" is more like the first track in that it is generally upbeat, energetic, bright, up tempo, cheerful, and stylish, but with perhaps more classical music qualities. Featuring threads of flute, synthesizer, percussion, french horn, oboe, violin, viola, cello, piccolo, piano, and bass guitar, it is artfully woven together into a rendering of pure joy.

"Earthtones", another favorite, is again slower, a bit more introspective, and exceptionally well developed, powerfully complex, rhythmic, melodic, memorable, and with "light jazz" influences. The magnificently intertwined elements of violin, piano, synthesizer, alto sax, clarinet, flute, acoustic guitar, oboe, and percussion, along with an occasional pulsating bass guitar and light ethereal vocals, foster a mood of tranquility, relaxation, and contemplation. This track, in particular, at times has a distinct classic Jazz/New Age crossover feel.

"Lily Pads" moves the album in a very different direction. It is much, much, much slower and with more "ambient" music qualities. The pace, softness, light percussion, and ethereal qualities are emotional, peaceful, and reflective. The occasional and clever use of Native American Shamanic rattles is particularly noteworthy. This, along with light "wind chime" like sounds gives the track subtle "spiritual" qualities. Overall, the experience is of sunlight dancing on the shimmering surface of a lake at sunset or dawn.

The longest track on the album is "Lake Shrine." It starts out more up tempo, with a steady pulsating rhythm, and also a classic New Age feel. In fact, at times this track reminded me of some of the works of Tangerine Dream. Like their music, which typically involved carefully interwoven elements of rhythmic synthesizer and real instruments, and with exceptional complexity and layering, this track at times has a trancelike vibe. Later, however, the music diverges into a period of what I call "instrumental chatter," with various voices each popping in to have their say, before gradually returning to the pulsating, melodic theme from the opening, and then finally and slowly drifting away.

Aptly titled, and similar to the first track, "Helium" is a light, airy, cheerful, poppy, rhythmic, and energetic "spirit dance" with light classical qualities, and featuring soprano sax, flute, fretless bass, piano, light synthesizer, and ending with a quite unexpected and purely whimsical riff on a calliope.

"Simon & Michael" is a melodic, moderate tempo piece, with classical elements, a creative and memorable theme, and a distinctive melody. It is also perhaps the best example of Max Highstein's masterful interweaving of varied instrumentation (flute, bells, synthesizer, percussion, cello, strings, piano, alto sax, English horn) in and out, lending the overall work decidedly "tapestry" like qualities. We especially like the English horn and cello elements on this one.

"Let's Talk," most definitely reflects the energetic, rhythmic, creative, and playful qualities of conversation. Featuring a "wildly diverse but nonetheless effective" mixture of instruments such as soprano sax, flute, guitar, piano, cello, strings, mandolin, acoustic guitar, banjo, and percussion, the result is an up-tempo, bright, cheerful, chatty, clever, melodic, and "jazzy" work reminiscent at times of "ragtime" music.

The next to last track, "New Girlfriend" features a particularly compelling and beautifully rendered opening that eventually gives way to a more poppy, rhythmic, lively, melodic, and energetic middle. The instrumental contrast in this track is especially noticeable with synthesizer, piano, bass guitar, bells, percussion, popping sounds, flutes, xylophone, a concert triangle, viola, and bass guitar all interwoven with magnificent handoffs between the instruments. There is even a perfectly clever "human whistling" riff near the end. And the cello work on this track really stands out.

The final track is titled "Olive Branch" and is an excellent way to end the album. It has a more moderate tempo, and is somewhat piano driven, but with amazing flute accompaniment. Absolute musical glee!

Overall, Flying, Not Falling is a brilliantly crafted masterpiece. The music is novel, spirited, and spectacularly rendered and most definitely varied and distinctive enough to hold your interest throughout the album. In fact, every time we listen to it, we notice something that we didn't hear before---and we have no hesitation listening to this album again and again. But of course, as we have noted throughout this review, it is the outstanding work Max does weaving together into a single tapestry the various threads of creative expression, style, and sound that is the real standout quality of this album. For that reason, we give the album our highest possible recommendation!

BT Fasmer

A magnificent album
“Flying Not Falling” is the title of Max Highstein’s 13th New Age music album. It is a collection of highly original and positive instrumental songs. The album will not give you wings, but it will leave you feeling happy and uplifted.

Max Highstein debuted as a New Age music artist in 1985 with “The Healing Waterfall”. It became a best seller and it remains one of the most popular guided imagery programs ever recorded. He has since recorded over 100 guided imagery programs. His two CDs “Touch The Sky” and “Stars” included some of the most heavily played music on the New Adult Contemporary Radio format of the 90’s. Highstein’s more recent include “Hondo Blaze”, “Path of The Heart”, “Intuition”, “Flight Plans”, “Sacred Journeys” and “Healing Journey”.
It is actually quite interesting. Our perception of music and art is heavily influenced by the many conflicts of our troubled world. Whole genres in literature and music are dedicated to negativity, death and destruction. What would a crime novel be without a bloody murder? We are simply not used to genuine, heartfelt positivity. It makes us doubtful; is it possible to be this happy? This is one of the things that makes “Flying Not Falling” into a great album; it is positive and upbeat without being sugar sweet.
The first track is the title song. Its atmosphere is playful. Here we have a very nice tableau; the fear of falling is gone and all negativity is forgotten when you have wind under your wings. You are free as a bird. Indeed, you feel like you are a bird! It truly is a magnificent song.
Track two, “Dreamwalk”, is more quiet and contemplative. It is like stepping into a dream where angels play harp, flute and a toy-like piano. I especially like the pluck styled synth. There’s a wonderful rhythm here too, clicking and clapping along beautifully, hidden in the background. Highstein has gathered several talented artists for the recording of this album. We get to hear John Yoakum on flute and soprano sax, Ed Willett on cello, Mark Clark on drums and percussion, John Gustafson on oboe and Jesse Tatum on flute. The vocalization is done by Willa Roberts. In an age where we are used to music totally made on digital audio workstations, it is refreshing that Highstein has such an acoustic approach to music, which “Dreamwalk” is an excellent example of. The recording is spotless.

On the album we meet some nice people. First out are “Frank and Mandy”, which is the title of track number 3. They seem to be deeply in love, and their relationship is totally uncomplicated and relaxed. Where they walk there’s not a cloud in the sky. I very much like the creative use of instruments here, it is like the oboe, cello and flute are competing on telling funny and heartwarming stories about the mentioned couple. With this many layers, the recording must have been complicated. It truly is an extraordinary, neo classical track.

My favorite track on the album is “Earthtones”. It is an evolving song with different stages. What impresses me the most is the sound, or expression, if you will. It has a hint of late 1980s music a la Andreas Vollenweider or Windham Hill Records. Sax and cello are always a great combination. The acoustic guitar and Rhodes piano are also amazing. It is a beautiful portrait of our world, the tones of the earth. It is beautiful beyond words.

After this wonderful display of musical artistry, “Lilly Pads” gives us time to catch our breath. It is like a walk in the garden, complete with the sounds of nature. It is not to last though. “Lake Shrine” takes us on a dive underwater, to a world of mystery and strange creatures. I very much enjoy the ambient flute melody and tasteful sound effects. Tony O’Connor‘s legendary water album springs to mind. “Lake Shrine” is just as good. Again the production is spotless, and it is impossible not to be impressed by Max Highstein’s studio work.

Can a song named “Helium” be negative and dark? I think not. Highstein’s “Helium” is an upbeat and bubbly song. The flute and sax are amazing, and you just feel like playing with a balloon in the breeze. Then we get to meet some more fascinating people. Their names are “Simon and Michael”. The song has a cool and carefree atmosphere. I especially like the theme. It is a wonderful melody, custom-made for the sax.

I believe you can solve any problem by talking, being open and honest. The song “Let’s talk” is all about in the power of conversation. There’s a serious note here, somewhere in the background, but its vibe is loving and optimistic. You can talk about anything in such surroundings. Then we are introduced to the “New Girlfriend”. Few things are more exciting than a new and promising relationship, and the song captures this feeling splendidly, right down to the mandatory whistling. “Olive Branch” makes sure that the album ends on a high note.

In conclusion: “Flying Not Falling” by Max Highstein is a magnificent New Age music album! It is on par with the best music of John Adorney, Davol and Curtis Macdonald. The acoustic sound gives it wide appeal. Initially it is easy to label “Flying Not Falling” as pretty and uncomplicated. But listen closely and you will appreciate the life wisdom it represents. It is impossible to feel sad while listening to it. In a world of conflicts and negativity, that is a rare quality.

Jess B.

This album is just delightful! I was immediately charmed by the positive energy and warmth this music exudes; it's actually a CD which has found permanent residence in my car because listening to it does wonders to combat the stress of traffic! I think the music composition itself is wonderfully varied, layered, complex and offers new elements to discover with each successive listening! Moreover the musicians performing here are superlative and enhance the quality of the musical material through their pristine attention to detail! I say an enthusiastic "Bravo" to all who contributed their collective talents to this album!